PrestaShop – Open Source E-commerce Software

March 24th, 2010.

prestashop

Recently out of beta stages, PrestaShop is a piece of ecommerce software that I discovered a couple of years ago while looking for a free, open source, capable and customisable e-commerce software package that I could use to create an online store for my father’s family-run sports shop in the UK.

I came across and tried a number of popular packages such as ZenCart and osCommerce, but found them to be clunky, unsupported or dated.

Enter, PrestaShop!

What is PrestaShop?

PrestaShop is a new, free, open-source, scalable, modular, light, fast, modern, sleek, and intuitive piece of ecommerce software.

prestashop-open-source-ecommerce 

A bunch of reasons to use PrestaShop…

Its completely free and open-source

  • All it costs is time – and with a growing community for 50,000+ users providing themes and advice, this time can be significantly shortened.
  • Open-source means you can edit and customise to your hearts content. Something you don’t like? Change it! You’re not locked into the ‘rules’ and limitations of commercial software.
  • You don’t even have to mention your store is powered by PrestaShop, if you wish. (Though more exposure means a growing community, which is good news for everyone!)

Lightweight and speedy

  • At around 6mb in total, PrestaShop is very lightweight making it fast to download, install and update!
  • Efficient and clean code structure mean that stores run quickly, and don’t needlessly tie down your database or abuse your bandwidth.

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Modern, Sleek and Intuitive

  • Completely CSS driven layouts – No more clunky table-based e-commerce solutions.
  • Web 2.0 features such as customer comments and ratings modules.
  • Uses the Smarty Template Engine, separating application code used by developers from your presentation code used by designers.
  • PrestaShop uses dynamic jQuery/AJAX powered code to make your store front as intriguing and interactive as possible.
  • Object Orientated PHP5 and MySQL.

SEO in mind

  • Pretty URLs’ functionality included – ‘/product.php?id=2’ becomes ‘/paper-shredders/dahle-safetec-strip-cut-shredder.html’ automatically for accurate and stronger indexing!
  • Automatically take care of canonical URLs to avoid your store being flagged by search engines as containing ‘duplicate content’.
  • Generate Google XML Sitemaps featuring all your categories, products, images and CMS pages in seconds.

prestashop-modular-ecommerce-software

Customisable and Modular

  • Want to offer a request option when an item is out of stock? Create your own modules, or edit the current ones to bring unique features to your store without the worry of interfering with PrestaShop’s core code.
  • Modules for most popular payment options available, such as PayPal, Google Checkout etc (you can also create your own too, of course!)
  • Or if you prefer, purchase premium modules by community developers over at PrestaStore.
  • Add additional content pages using the inbuilt TinyMCE CMS editor in the back office.

And much more of course… For a full list, PrestaShop also provide their own impressive full listing of features available here.

You may also be interested in the Live Shop Showcase they provide. This gallery of online stores that use PrestaShop clearly demonstrates the customisation potential.

Great! So are there any disadvantages?

Unfortunately there are a couple of issues with using PrestaShop, aside from the growing community forums, little documentation is offered in terms of development (creating modules, Smarty Engine etc) via the official wiki.

prestashop-community-forums

Another issue of note would be that as the PrestaShop team are located in France, the community itself was largely French speaking for a long while. This is rapidly changing however as awareness grows, and there now appears to be around 3x more English speaking users than as recent as 3 months ago.

Here to help

Getting started with PrestaShop was very much mostly trial and error to begin with, but it was time well spent.

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Having created multiple stores powered by the PrestaShop software (including a largely customised prestashop system running multiple store fronts across differing domains via a single back office), as well as many custom modules based on client’s requirements, I now feel more than comfortable with the PrestaShop’s format and structure.

Therefore I intend to begin writing detailed tutorials regarding PrestaShop, sharing the knowledge I have gained over the last 12 months (some were more enjoyable than others).

Sound like too much work? Hire Us!

Looking to set up, or improve an online store of your own but don’t have the time, or knowledge of web development to do it yourself?

Have a look through some of previous client work and get in touch to find out how we can help you. We offer web design services of all sizes, from custom PrestaShop payment modules, to full ecommerce packages.

With rapid concept to delivery turn-around, and reasonable rates flexible dependant on the scale of work required, Internet Assets are a team of experienced e-commerce developers capable of any sized project.

 

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About

Mark is a web designer / developer working for Internet Assets from Lancashire, England. He is a graduate of Graphic and Communication Design from the University of Leeds, and is keen on all things related to technology.

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